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Schaff: The Number of Sacraments

euchbarist-1I was talking with a Romanist and they were trying to argue that the 7 sacraments were always the standard of the Church. Is he right? A quick look through Schaff tells otherwise. The number of sacraments was under discussion and it wasn’t till over 1000 years after the Ascension that the number was determined. Is this “catholic”?

In the West, the number seven was first introduced, as is usually supposed, by the bishop Otto of Bamberg (1124), more correctly by Peter Lombard (d. 1164), the “Master of Sentences;” rationally and rhetorically justified by Thomas Aquinas and other scholastics (as recently by Möhler) from the seven chief religious wants of human life and human society; and finally publicly sanctioned by the council of Florence in 1439 with the concurrence of the Greek church, and established by the council of Trent with an anathema against all who think otherwise.

Instead what is apparent is that the Church always agreed on two, the Supper and Baptism because those are the ones Christ instituted. Till the 12th century there was uncertainty in the number of the sacraments. Ambrose along with the North African, the Milanese, and the Gallican churches declared against Rome that foot washing was an essential sacrament. The number 7 was never fixed.


1 Comment

  1. RubeRad says:

    the Church always agreed on two, the Supper and Baptism because those are the ones Christ instituted

    Which raises the question, why not foot washing? John 13:14-15 really looks like an “institution”…

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